Scope report criticises designers

Designers are being targeted by a new report from charity Scope, which claims that nearly three quarters of all businesses throughout the UK are still failing to provide suitable access and facilities for disabled people.

The findings in the publication, Left Out, which launched on Monday, come despite the introduction of the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.

More than 500 companies, including shops, banks, leisure centres, pubs, clubs, cinemas and theatres were questioned. It was found that 74 per cent pose one or more entry problem for disabled people. Common barriers include steps, lack of lifts, automatic doors and ramps, inaccessible toilets and cash-points.

However, examples of good practice, such as level entrances, wide aisles and good customer service, are highlighted in the report. Other positive advances include large-print menus in some restaurants, scooters in some DIY stores and websites for people with visual impairments.

Scope head of public affairs, Brian Lamb, says Left Out coincides with the April launch of the Disability Rights Commission, established to enforce the DDA.

“We’re delighted that the Government has set up the DRC. It’s essential that the new discrimination laws are enforced to ensure disabled people have access to public services that other people take for granted,” he says.

The report details how organisations can work to improve the accessibility to goods, facilities and services. There is also advice for campaigners on how they can take local action.

Recommendations include the establishment of a disabled people’s access panel to advise on services, more consultation with disabled customers, and promotion of good design practices.

The report concludes: “We all have a part to play to ensure an accessible future – Government and the DRC, businesses and designers, disabled people and disability organisations. Scope is keen to work with partners who share our commitment to an accessible environment and equal opportunities for disabled people.”

The Adapt Trust (Access for Disabled people to Arts Premises Today) is organising a series of eight seminars throughout the UK, supported by the Department for Education and Employment, about inclusive design.

The first is in Glasgow on 29 August, with others in Edinburgh, Salford, Bristol, Newport, Birmingham, Dundee and Gateshead during October and November. Adapt Trust director Stewart Coutler says: “They are aimed at designers and architects mainly, but also to access officers and surveyors.”

For more details contact 0131 346 1999.

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